A skewed homage to Robert Altman's THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK, NO SKIN OFF MY ASS lacks the menacing qualities of the earlier work, which were largely purveyed by the late Sandy Dennis.
This shabby effort by writer-director-star Bruce LaBruce barely tells the tale of a romance between an obsessive hairdresser (LaBruce) living in New York's East Village, and a taciturn young skinhead (Klaus von Brucker). The skinhead's wiser, older lesbian sister, Jonesy (G.B. Jones), provides
him with emotional counsel.
NO SKIN OFF MY ASS was shot in Super-8 and then blown up to 16mm, with the result that it looks as if it were shot in a sandstorm. The sound quality is even worse; LaBruce's narration provides the entire soundtrack, his voice a poorly transmitted, annoying whine.
Budgetary and technical problems aside, LaBruce had a chance to depict a refreshingly downmarket side of gay life. The lifestyle of homosexual punks, who are content to just hang out and listen to raucous music, is in marked contrast to that of the more media-acceptable designer clones and gay
yuppies featured in recent films like MAKING LOVE and LONGTIME COMPANION, and television's AN EARLY FROST. However, LaBruce gives us only the most sketchy, shallow view of his chosen milieu. His deepest observation, aside from a breathlessly intoned tribute to Doc Marten shoes, is about how
surprisingly clean skinheads keep themselves.
The film's true raison d'etre appears to be its numerous scenes of "raw" sex. LaBruce and Brucker couple in a variety of ways, both coy and kinky: in the bed, bathtub and with obligatory sadomasochistic touches. The comic highpoint, if it can be thus called, occurs when Brucker is handcuffed to a
toilet accompanied by the strains of "Deutschland Uber Alles," while LaBruce makes a "Sieg Heil" salute that culminates in a campy downward flap of the wrist. Canadian censors evidently banned the film because of a scene wherein LaBruce sucks peanut butter from Brucker's toes. Far queasier is a
nipple-and ear-piercing episode, instigated by Jonesy.
Jonesy fulfills the Wacky Auntie Mame/Wise Earth Mother lesbian stereotype favored by this sort of gay drama. Surrounded by a coterie of wry galpals, she's full of sage romantic advice for the confused boys and is last seen perkily spray-painting a wall with graffiti. (This character is as big a
feminine cliche as understanding mammies were in early Hollywood depictions of blacks; there was one in PARTING GLANCES, and Mary-Louise Parker's character in LONGTIME COMPANION was also a variation on this theme.)
There's a germ of a good idea in Brucker's dual character, the contrast between the mute stud he presents of himself to attract needy men and the typical, rambunctious juvenile he actually is when around his sister. (Indeed, as stated by LaBruce, the film purports to be a study of the seemingly
sempiternal fascination gays have for macho types.) However, the cherubic actor isn't given a chance to do anything except act sullen or sexually aroused, and dance robotically to a punk rendition of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'."
Correspondingly, LaBruce essays his role with a facile, deadpan cool that is supposed to convince us he is a gay Everyman. Whatever sympathy one might have for his character's romantic torment is dissipated by his calculatedly bleak performance. The film climaxes with a scene of LaBruce shaving
his lover's head and, yes, it has all the fascination of watching someone get a haircut. (Substance abuse, profanity, sexual situations, adult situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: A skewed homage to Robert Altman's THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK, NO SKIN OFF MY ASS lacks the menacing qualities of the earlier work, which were largely purveyed by the late Sandy Dennis. This shabby effort by writer-director-star Bruce LaBruce barely tells… (more)